Simone Faflick was born in Brittany, a cultural region in the northwest of France. I discovered Simone through my relationship with 9th Division veteran William Maloney, who was aboard the USS Thomas Stone in the 39th Regiment 9th Division, North Africa, November 1942. When Bill Maloney passed away, I connected with Simone through Bill's daughter. William was married to Simone's sister Raymonde. They met met in Algiers, where Simone's mother was a schoolmaster at La Redoute. Some of the 39th, 9th Division were bivouacked there after the landings in Algiers. Simone's early life's story was quite amazing as it relates to the invasion of North Africa 1942-43. As a young woman she attended the University of Algiers, and beginning in 1939, she soon experienced anxiety and uncertainty from a raging war in Europe. In the summer of 1939, she and her family were forced to shorten their visit to Pléneuf in Brittany as a menacing German U Boat prowled the waters. Visiting her home country was no longer possible. Back in Algiers, she began her first year at the University, while her sister would resume her studies, and mother would return to teaching at La Redoute. All this as the war was winding up.
November 8th 1942 - Allied Forces Land in Algiers - From Simone's diary:
"Around 10 P.M., on November 7th, there was a knock on our front door. It was a student friend of mine, a member of the Gaullist Movement, Lucien A., who having made a special trip by streetcar (there were no telephones), announced to our great stupefaction :“Try to stay awake all night. The British and the Americans will be landing in Algiers. You will probably hear noise around Fort L’Empereur”around 2AM. Fort L’Empereur was an army fortress on an adjacent hill. Indeed, around 3P.M. we were awakened by very loud detonations and for the rest of the night we could only wait and wonder. The next morning I learned from my friends that Admiral Darlan, Général Pétain’s Deputy in Algiers, had ordered the Vichy-French Garde Mobile to repulse the invading armies. He had also given orders to incarcerate Général Juin Corps Franc Commander and Mr. Murphy (American Consul in Algiers). Very sad news: three student volunteers had been killed when the Gaullist Corps Franc, wishing to aid the Allied Forces, had attempted to take over Fort l’Empereur. It was not until the afternoon that Admiral Darlan finally surrendered."
"The Allies had indeed landed! That very afternoon, right under my bedroom window, I watched several companies of British soldiers swarm into our schoolyard. Loaded with heavy gear, they had walked a good five miles all the way from the harbor. By night time they had occupied more than half of the school classrooms which, for the next two years, would be housing Allied forces, British and American. My parents’ lodgings had always been an integral part of a school compound and I had become almost oblivious of schoolyards noises. It took me quite a while to get used to the level of noise that would reach us from the soldiers quarters right under our bedroom windows."
From our interview in the summer of 2009, I was astounded to learn that Simone had actually known the young man who assassinated Admiral Darlan. His name was Ferdinand Bonnier de la Chapelle. They were both members of a Gaullist movement among the students that eventually became the "Corps Franc d’Afrique." You can see an excerpt about that incident here: Admiral Darlan. Simone would continue to have many exciting experiences; some would prove to be terrifying:
"One afternoon, as I was on my way home waiting at the bus stop, a complete stranger, a man in his thirties, accosted me. He told me that he also was from Brittany and started to lecture me. He repeated over and over that he could not understand why a nice girl like me, of pure French descent, could fraternize with Jewish radicals. I argued a bit and was able to brush him off. Twice, later that week, I found him waiting for me at the same spot. He tried again to win me to his cause and was so insistent that to ignore him was impossible, so I just stood there in complete silence and prayed for the bus to come soon. He never showed himself again but I was quite shaken and for a long time I wondered if he was still around . Why Me?"
Despite the invasion of Allied forces, Algiers was still not completely safe. There were air raids on a daily basis from JU-88's. In fact, during this period the USS Thomas Stone continued to be bombed and strafed. Some of the German planes were caught in barrage balloons in the harbor, many others were shot down by anti-aircraft batteries.
"One morning was as I was riding the bus, there were the shrieking sounds of sirens. Everyone had to get off the bus. I could not miss my class. Taking a detour through a small park I felt somewhat protected by the trees. Once in the avenue I started running from building to building, stopping at each doorstep to inspect the sky. I did get to my class alive and in time. Another day, a very gruesome sight welcomed the students at the University. A German soldier, all entangled in his parachute, had fallen and died impaled by the spikes of the main gate."
By mid February of 1943, the campaign in North Africa reached its peak as 10,000 allies became causalities at the battle of Kasserine Pass. The bombing of Algiers intensified and news were that the Germans who by then had occupied Tunisia would be advancing west. Simone possessed needed talents and skills that soon would be put to use:
"In the middle of June I was contacted by the Language Department of the University. The Liaison Section of the French Army was looking for possible candidates - interpreters were badly needed by the British and American headquarters in Algiers. I decided to volunteer. After a four-week training session in a French Army camp I became a Second Lieutenant in the Liaison Section of the French Etat Major General de Guerre. The training session was easier than I had anticipated. We were all university graduates chosen for their competence in English but also I believe for their congeniality."
The following photos are from Simone Faflick's memoirs
View of the City of Algiers from Simone's window
Simone Faflick's mother, Eulalie Leboulanger
Simone Faflick 2nd Lt., 4th from left, Liaison Section of the French Etat Major General de Guerre
Photos and memorabilia provided by the veterans and their families.
This independent documentary is not intended to be a comprehensive account of the war in North Africa 1942-43. The completed film will feature rare interviews from veterans connected to the story. The search to locate veterans within this time frame was very difficult. With no funding and a small film crew who sporadically assisted with re-creations, the bulk of production falls upon one individual. Contributions of any kind are welcomed. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacqueline Borock, Esq. email@example.com
Photos, illustrations, art work or interviews may not be reproduced, copied, stored, manipulated or redistributed without the expressed permission of the author.
Michael Fraticelli - North Africa 1942-43 Survivors' Stories © 2015